Real Leaders

My Big Idea to Change the World in 2016


Secular economists and so-called business experts have commandeered the purpose of business like blood-thirsty pirates taking over a merchant ship. The ship is our moral minds. We have been taken prisoner.

Since the 1970’s when the popular economist Milton Friedman insisted that the only purpose of business was to make money, greed and shortcuts have been legitimized as smart business strategy. Jack Welch enthroned creating investor wealth as the primary goal of every competent CEO.

What has this mindset brought us? Recently, the corrupt culture of the major international car company, VW, used their engineering talent to make highly polluting diesel cars appear to be clean. Public health officials believe that VW has sold enough of these cars in the LA basin to cause new asthma cases in the children that live there.

The thinking of moral buccaneers has brought us Turing Pharmaceuticals, a drug company that acquired Daraprim and raised its price from $13.50 to $750 a pill. That’s not a misprint. This drug is a vital life-saving drug used by cancer and AIDS patients. The only words that describe Turing CEO Martin Shkreli is that he is an immoral pig. Neither he nor his scientists have created anything.  The drug is 62 years old.  But few in the pharmaceutical industry condemn him. Drug prices have risen over 13% in the last year not because of the cost of R&D but because of the popularity of the new drug pricing strategy called “What are people willing to pay to save their lives?”

Gilead Sciences is one of Wall Street’s most admired companies. The business press admires them because they charge $84,000 for a 12-week treatment for hepatitis C. They don’t try to justify their price on the cost of R&D.  They simply say we charge that much “because it works.” The entire pharmaceutical industry is out of control.

We live at a time when business greed is so taken for granted that even those who were directly responsible for the financial meltdown of 2008 were not only left unaccountable; many of them received multimillion dollar bonuses made possible from the taxpayer bailout.  Now I am a big proponent of the wisdom of the government bailout of the economy.  It saved us.  But virtually all the heads of those financial institutions should’ve, at minimum, been fined and fired and some should’ve gone to jail. They should all be banned from working in the financial industry for life. But most of them are back doing reckless stuff.

And of course nearly all industries that are major contributors to greenhouse gases that are driving the looming disaster caused by climate change argue that they have a greater responsibility to make money in the short-term for their investors then they do to the children of our world that will be be growing up in a time of man-made environmental catastrophe.

I could go on about how businesses knowingly use unhealthy   additives in food, toxic chemicals in products, and would rather pay fines when they’re caught polluting than stopping the pollution, but let me stop here.

As someone who has been in scores and scores of meetings with the most senior executives of very large publicly owned companies I can assure you that leaders making these decisions are not inherently evil.  Most of them are good people corrupted by in immoral system in which short-term financial self-interest is the only standard that is consistently applied to important decisions.  It sickens me.

What we need is a moral revolution. We need leaders who empathize with their employees, customers, communities and the future generation of unborn children. We need leaders with courage to change the mindset of business. We need leaders who understand that the true purpose of business is to improve the quality of life of all their stakeholders, including the wider community and future generations.
Those of you who know me know that I don’t believe that most men will take up the torch of moral change.  Men in general are simply too competitive and too self-interested to sustain their moral courage.  Without a doubt some men are but most a not.

We know from research that women are the primary civilizing force. Recently, social sciences have confirmed the influences of respected women are a major cause of men becoming empathetic.  Bill Gates became a philanthropist after he married Melinda.  Mark Zuckerberg pledged to give his fortune away through a vision given to him by his wife.

So as you know, I am tirelessly beating the drum to elevate more women into leadership.  Women’s brains are affected both by hormones and their neuro-networks to think long-term. Their brains are designed for empathy and social inclusion. Women are more interested in community benefit, stopping injustice, and creating a future that is better for everyone’s children.

I assure you this is not psychological mythology.  These are the conclusions of hundreds of research studies using brain scans and behavioral psychology experiments.  This does not mean that all men are stupid and immoral and all women are smart and values-driven.  But what I think it does mean is that if we want a future that is good for all our children we need more women in leadership of businesses and institutions large and small.

You might be thinking that it’s as hard to name more morally-inspiring women CEOs as it is to name their few male counterpart CEOs like Howard Schultz of Starbucks or Mark Parker of Nike.  And you would be right. Susan Cameron leads America’s biggest tobacco company. Marissa Mayer turned Yahoo into a rudderless salt mine.  But my point is that Schultz and Parker are highly exceptional men.  And Cameron and Mayor are negatively exceptional women. They got to their positions of power by mimicking male toughness which too many senior women do. What’s needed is a whole new mindset which enables women to lead with their gender-based brain strengths. That’s when the revolution will take place.

As I have wondered how to accelerate getting more women on Boards of Directors and in corporate C-suites it struck me that I must use the logic of our current business norms to force the issue.  So I commissioned research project to examine the evidence of the impact of women on the financial, strategic, innovative and operational performance of business organizations.

What I found in the research is that women are generally superior to men in 20 key competencies that directly affect the financial performance of a large enterprise.  This means that corporate boards have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to elevate more women into senior leadership positions.

What I’m saying here is that if corporate boards feel their job is to ensure their company creates as much short-term shareholder wealth as possible they are obligated to recruit and elevate women who excel at most of the 20 competencies listed below.  Right now, women who get to the top usually have to mimic men.  But we don’t need highly competitive, short-term focused, self-interested women in leadership.  Instead we need business cultures that promote women who possess high social intelligence, thinking versatility, and creative empathy.

Companies that do not systematically promote these kinds of women need to be sued by activist shareholders who want their companies to prosper both now and in the future.  I think that’s a hell of a big idea!

The list of 20 ways that most women outperform most men is down below.

The world is not going to change on its own…at least not for the better.  What you do matters. What you stand for matters. This is not the best we can do…we need to do better.

20 Reasons Why Advancing Women into Leadership Is a Fiduciary Duty of Corporate Boards

  1. Women Get Results. Companies with diverse boards perform better than those run purely by men: Francesca Lagerberg, “Woman in business: the value of diversity.” Grant Thornton International, (2015): 1.
  2. Women are more effective collaborators. Women are naturally wired for career success in today’s workplace with attributes such as cooperation, collaboration, and communication: Catherine Kaputa, “The female advantage: 9 ways to use it.”  The Women’s Conference Archive Site.
  3. Women are more versatile. Character traits of women leaders include “masculine” traits such as straightforward communication style, action-oriented, risk-takers, skilled at solving complex problems but additionally resilience, energy, and empathy: “Women leaders research paper.”  Caliper Research and Development Department, (2014).
  4. Women “read” people better. Women have higher social intelligence and are more intuitive and empathetic: Catherine Kaputa, “The female advantage: 9 ways to use it.”  The Women’s Conference Archive Site.
  5. Women are more mentally agile. Women use both right and left hemispheres of brain making them outscore men on oral and written tests; better communicators: Catherine Kaputa, “The female advantage: 9 ways to use it.”  The Women’s Conference Archive Site.
  6. Women express themselves better. Women have higher emotional intelligence, can express emotions more accurately which unites others: Catherine Kaputa, “The female advantage: 9 ways to use it.”  The Women’s Conference Archive Site.
  7. Women are better transformational leaders. Women are more “transformation” leaders; they are skilled at getting subordinates to transform their own self-interest into the interest of the larger group.  Women transcribe their power not to their position within the organization but to their own personal characteristics: Barbara B. Moran, “Gender differences in leadership.”
  8. Women are better at creating win-win solutions. Women leaders are more democratic; better at win-win situations:  Barbara B. Moran, “Gender differences in leadership.”
  9. Women are better at leading teams. Women think more holistically, have higher levels of compassion and team-building skills, more persuasive and assertive, and are better at influencing without using authority.  Drew Gannon, “How men and women differ in the workplace.”  The Fiscal Times, (2012, May 25).
  10. Women are better at uniting teams.Women are better at building team cohesion: Kenya McCullum, “The feminine advantage: 4 unique qualities women bring to the workplace.”  Worldwide Learn (2014, Sept. 9).
  11. Women are more confident in their ability to deal with risk.Women leaders are more persuasive, assertive and willing to take more risks than male leaders: “The qualities that distinguish women leaders.”  Caliper Research and Development Center, (2005).
  12. Women are better at facing challenges. Women managers may be better prepared to cope with the challenges of the future: Barbara B. Moran, “Gender differences in leadership.”
  13. Women are better at getting results through teamwork. Women create more committed, collaborative, inclusive, and more effective teams: “Women leaders: the hard truth about soft skills.”  Bloomberg Business, (2010, Feb. 16).
  14. Women are better at creating loyalty and commitment. Women are better at building relationships that inspire and engage others: Mitch McCrimmon, Are women better leaders than men?  Management Issues, (2014, May 6).
  15. Women in the E-suite create better business results. Women generate better teams and better teams generate better corporate results: Solange Charas, “A mathematical argument for more women in leadership.”  Fast Company.
  16. Women are better at leading change. Women are better at promoting change: “Women leading change.”  Oxfam, (2011).
  17. Women are more flexible under changing circumstances. Women are more flexible: Christine Avery and Diane Zabel, The Flexible Workplace: A Sourcebook of Information and Research.  Quorum Books (2001).
  18. Women are more adaptable to new circumstances. Women are more adaptable to change: Margaret Andersen, Howard Taylor, Kim Logio, Sociology: the essentials, eight edition.  Cengage learning, (2015).
  19. Women are better at avoiding reckless risk. Women are better at avoiding reckless risk: Asha Kaul Manjari Singh, Gender inclusivity: theory and best practices. PHI Learning Private Limited, (2012).
  20. Women are better at resolving risk. Women are better at resolving conflict: Colleen E. Kelley and Ann L. Ebien, Women who speak for peace.  Roman and Littlefield Publishers, (2002).

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